Despite major pushback from pro-charter advocates and Black education leaders, the NAACP moved to uphold a controversial resolution this weekend calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools.
According to the Washington Post, leaders of the civil rights organization met in Cincinnati on Saturday to ratify the resolution, which was adopted in July by delegates to the NAACP’s 2016 convention. Members of the organization’s board of directors signed the document denouncing the establishment of more charter schools until:
- Charter schools are held to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools.
- Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of public schools.
- Charter schools refrain from expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate.
- Charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest-performing students from those whose aspirations are high but whose talents may not yet be evident.
“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the National NAACP Board of Directors. “Our decision today is driven by a long held principle and policy of the NAACP that high quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.”
The civil rights organization, one of the oldest in the nation, has long had doubts about charters and their impact on the nation’s public school systems. But their call for a complete moratorium on the independently run institutions had several pro-charter advocates up in arms.
Earlier this year, a coalition of over 160 Black educators and community leaders penned a scathing letter to the NAACP on behalf of the “700,000 Black families choosing to send their children to charter public schools, and the tens of thousands more who are still on waiting lists,” Atlanta Black Star reports. The letter came shortly after the NAACP proposed the controversial moratorium.
Black education leaders, specifically those involved in charter school education, accused the NAACP of making “misinformed, anti-character” arguments about the independent schools, noting that a ban would only reduce opportunities for Black students who come from low-income and working-class families.
“A blanket moratorium on charter schools would limit Black students’ access to some of the best schools in America and deny Black parents the opportunity to make decisions about what’s best for their children,” the coalition’s letter read.
Division reared its ugly head as African-Americans and civil rights groups were split over the pros and cons of sending their kids to charter schools. Opponents of the independently run schools argue that they take public funds away from traditional public schools and have weak oversight. Charter school proponents say the schools provide extra learning time and opportunity to the neediest of students.
A recent poll by Education Next also revealed a split among African-Americans, with 46 percent of Blacks in favor of public charter schools and 29 percent against.
“Rather than criticize, one should try to address the underlying reasons why the NAACP is calling for a pause in further charter expansion,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and supporter of the NAACP’s moratorium. “Addressing the issues raised in its resolution—including real transparency and accountability standards for charters—is a necessary step in the fight for great public schools for all children.”
Aside from the differing opinions of the Black community, charter school leaders will have to meet the NAACP’s moratorium demands before the groups even think about coming to a consensus.
“The vote taken by the NAACP is a declaratory statement by this Association that the proliferation of charter schools should be halted as we address the concerns raised in our resolution,” Chairman Brock wrote.